Jack in Water (Balearics)

Jack in Water (William Clapson) is a British artist living in Mallorca known for his melancholic and alternative music where he explores various themes such as masculinity and mental health.

Last year he released his debut album ‘You Don’t Feel Like Home’ following a series of EP’s . Trauma, repression, difficult family relationships or alcohol abuse are some of the complex aspects that this body of work addresses in contrast with the freshness provided by the tender ballad dedicated to his best friend and previous collaborator Oliver Chapman in ‘Unconditional Love’.

In 2022 he released an EP of songs he wrote during 2020 called ‘The Year We Lost’. It is a set of songs written as gifts requested by fans and friends when COVID hit and the world started to lock down. There are songs from friends to friends, Mothers to sons and partner to partner. All were forced apart so wanted to send a message of hope or love to each other via the medium of music. What does 2023 have in store? A new album and a few more surprises.

‘A songwriter with real depth.’ Clash

‘Out of his comfort zone and into the intimidating space of emotional vulnerability.’ Atwood

Haley Blais (BC, Canada)

Haley Blais is a Vancouver based singer-songwriter and musician. Haley has been DIY-ing it since 2014, turning out song after song of defiant scream-into-your-pillow bedroom pop anthems recorded in her actual bedroom. Below the Salt, the debut studio LP from the up and comer, is a coming of age story that recognizes that there is no real ‘coming of age.’ Featuring production from indie favourites Tennis (Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley) and fellow Vancouver artist Louise Burns, Haley’s signature sound has matured into a distinct new voice. Her lyrics riff on the joys and banalities of the every day, on the need to break apart and away from an uninspiring life, on radical acceptance, and manifesting a world where you feel proud of yourself and who you’re surrounded by. “Canada’s nostalgia pop queen” – i-D Magazine

Ellen Froese (SK, Canada)

Ellen Froese is what you’d call a “prolific artist”; committed, too. For someone who only just passed the threshold of their mid-20s, she’s amassed a resolutely solid body of work and, with a variety of projects, achieved more than some many years her senior. For Each Flower Growing, Froese’s fourth full-length, produced in collaboration with the Sheepdogs’ Sam Corbett, is her most accomplished statement to date, drawing on her established sound as a folk & country-based singer/songwriter while incorporating a wider frame of reference in the rich production, supple instrumentation, and overall sonic soundworld. It’s much harder to pin down than any simple description can convey, making it all the more worthwhile to check out.

The impressive scope of this rich, imaginative amalgam of an album is largely due to the expansive creative vision of Froese herself, who says the album is “based around ideas of 1970s science exploration via Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos, Arthur Russell’s drum machine folk music, finding humour in sadness, and analyzing past relationship choices”. Some of these guiding elements can be attributed simply to the continuing growth of a serious artist, but others lie in less sunny realities. Jill Mack, Froese’s original recording engineer and close friend, sadly passed away during the making of For Each Flower Growing, and subsequently the album became, as she puts it, “something different – it is now an homage to her and will always hold memories of my time in the studio with her”.

Despite this deep sadness underpinning the album’s creation, Froese was lucky to find a wonderful creative foil in Sam Corbett, helping her move past old ideas and reimagine her conception of what “folk music” can be. With the addition of drum machines, synths, and more intricate vocal production techniques, Froese reflects that “folk music can be anything I want it to be; I don’t have to be stuck in an antiquated mindset to hold strong musical ties to the past”. And the results of that mindset are stellar; For Each Flower Growing is exquisitely warm and inviting, foregrounding the singer’s lilting, ethereal vocals atop right-in-the-pocket, pillow-y drumming, melodic bass lines, ripples of Hammond organ layers, and – for the headphone listener – a bevvy of expertly-placed sonic details tucked into the margins of this highly accomplished album.

The album is an easy listen, immediately inviting and begging for repeat listens. And while it sits nicely alongside contemporary songsmiths such as Angel Olsen, Laura Veirs, Jessica Pratt, and Adrienne Lenker (Big Thief), Froese’s sound moves beyond those realms, also recalling the aforementioned Arthur Russell, an iconoclastic songwriter and producer whose songs traded in similar contemplative, horizon-gazing moods, and even the more relaxed moments of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. In other moments, Froese’s roots in the trad-folk world shine through, revealing an affinity for ’60s British folk trailblazers such as Fairport Convention and Nick Drake, as well as under the radar gems like Judee Sill and Sybille Baier. Froese recently completed a string of live dates with beloved fellow Saskatchewanians Deep Dark Woods, and she is gearing up for a residency at the legendary Cameron House in Toronto for the month of November. The album is due out on November 10 via Victory Pool Records, and appreciators of fine music would be well-advised to check it out.

Mr Phormula

Mr Phormula is a pioneering beat-boxer and live looping artist. With a career as diverse as the Welsh landscape within which he is rooted Mr Phormula’s inspired performances and vocal compositions have gained him international recognition as a leading beatboxer, rapper and producer.

The fluidity of Mr Phormula’s bilingualism is distinctive and this, along with slick rhythms, compelling bass lines and vocal dexterity, have earned him a broad and committed fanbase from across Cymru, the UK and the USA. Titles include being the current Welsh Looping champion and in 2013 he was the Vice UK Looping Champion.

Collaborations with hip hop greats including The Pharcyde, Jungle Brothers, Boy better Know, Plan B, Professor Green and legend Krs-One also highlight the quality and range of Mr Phormula’s music production talents which compliment the poetic nature of his bilingualism.
Mr Phormula has a reputation for being one of the hardest working artists on the UK hip-hop scene and has performed at a variety of venues, nightclubs and festivals (including one of the most iconic stages in the world – The Royal Albert Hall) as well as making numerous national TV and radio appearances.

This artist’s innovative new releases continue to grow the Welsh hip-hop scene at home while promoting this dynamic bilingual genre abroad.

One Kabira

One Kabira is a duo of Alyna Harbinson and Yasmine Latkowski, belly dance performance artists and workshop facilitators. They work with the multicultural hub in Wrexham and have provided belly dance workshops to diverse communities. They also perform alongside Yasmine Latkowski’s Middle Eastern/Eastern European folk band, offering performance opportunities to experienced dancers and non-experienced dancers, having previously ran live music workshops and danced alongside Black Veil for Llangollen Fringe Festival 2022.

AWST

Awst is the solo project of Cynyr Hamer. The project was born after a busy summer of writing and recording new songs in 2020, with the intention of eventually creating several mini albums. These materials are recorded on a Tascam digital machine, and generally try to stick to the ‘first takes’ to try and bring the spontaneous element to the music.

Awst’s songs are crafted from acoustic melodies, chilled drum beats, layerd with dreamy guitars and horn sections. Debut album ‘Haul/Lloer’ and follow up album ‘Awst’ have been warmly recived with plays on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru.

Yasmine Latkowski

Yasmine Latkowski is a composer and performer, bringing Middle Eastern and Eastern European folk music to the stage. Her work can be heard in Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me, BBC Africa Eye and BBC2 Art of Persia.

Yasmine is bringing her full band to Focus Wales, including musicians with Welsh folk roots, fusing all of these genres together in a multicultural collective, from the width of Wales, Europe and the Middle East.

Joining Yasmine’s full band will be One Kabira belly dance collective.

Ffenest

From the jams and ideas of a once-a-week, Tuesday get together came, Ffenest. Founded by George Amor (Omaloma, Sen Segur) and Ben Ellis (Sen Segur, Phalcons), the group tangle with their own roots in Welsh language psychedelia bringing forth a wonky paracosm of over-world melodies and underworld light.

Ffenest is the Welsh word for window. Perhaps a window, door, gate, portal, bridge or entrance to another dimension unseen by day to day eyes. Or perhaps just two mountain lads and their mates driving a new musical vehicle.

Hannah Scott

Hannah Scott draws much of the inspiration for her music from her affinity with Italy. A year living and working on an olive press in rural Tuscany in her late teens provided the backdrop to her early work and she has found her musical home with creative partner, writer-producer and multi-instrumentalist Stefano Della Casa, who she met in London but may well have met in Italy years earlier when passing through the train station he was working in!

Hannah performs contemporary folk music and is building a loyal following thanks to her distinctive voice, powerful melodies and thought-provoking lyrics which leave a lasting impression on her audiences. Her latest album “Drawn To Darkness” was funded by Help Musicians UK and a Kickstarter campaign which reached more than double the initial target.

Her music has been heard in hit TV series, Grey’s Anatomy, and has been played regularly on the BBC with releases supported by Dermot O’Leary and Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2 and Tom Robinson on 6 Music. She’s also been featured by MOJO, The Guardian and Clash Magazine. She has been selected to take part in English Folk Expo’s highly competitive Artist Mentoring Programme this year, while live highlights include opening for Madeleine Peyroux to an audience of 2000 at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre and travelling across Ireland with Paddy Casey to open shows for him in Dublin and in a tiny Irish speaking village near Galway! Her arresting live performances have also earned her support slots for artists including Seth Lakeman, Cara Dillon and 10cc and she has twice travelled to New York festival Mondo NYC.

Maddie Morris

Maddie Morris was the winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young folk award, and is a contemporary folk musician, who is heavily influenced by traditional protest song Originally from Bedfordshire and currently based in Leeds, Maddie is a strong believer that ‘the personal is political’, and uses her own experiences to raise discussion around issues such as LGBTQ rights, CSA, Feminism and trauma, too name a few.

Heather Ferrier

Heather Ferrier is an accordionist, clog dancer and composer from Stockport. Regarded as an “engaging talker and magnetic performer” (NARC magazine), 2022 has seen Heather release her debut solo concept EP From the Ashes. This EP intertwines virtuosic alt-accordion composition with lush electronic soundscapes and through its powerful, folk-influenced melodies and bold contemporary arrangements, explores the emotional processes we undergo during times of uncertainty. The EP has been favourably reviewed, as well as being played on BBC radio Newcastle and other grassroot radio stations. This year also see’s Heather expanding her solo sound, by joining forces with guitarist Alasdair Paul (Pons Aelius) and drummer Adam Stapleford (Taupe). In their forthcoming EP; the trio have created music that is an explosion of groove and melody that embellishes Heather’s signature alt-folk style. The combination of Ferrier, Paul and Stapleford’s melting pot of influences and cross-genre collaborations transcends the limits of contemporary instrumental folk music, using Heather’s distinct compositional style to create emotive and upbeat arrangements.

George Boomsma

Having been honing his song-writing craft and live performances over the past decade, George Boomsma has been quietly gaining some well-earnt attention and acclaim. Based in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, George’s pure voice and tumbling guitar make for a bewitching combination – warm and melancholy, melodic yet powerful, he exhibits a maturity and poetic lyricism that have left audiences around the country entranced.

He has been invited to play alongside many impressive and established artists such as Richard Thompson, Scott Matthews, Katherine Priddy, Gaby Moreno, Kathryn Williams, The Travelling Band, Chloe Foy, Neill Maccoll, Jefferson Hamer, Emma Langford and Martha Tilston. On top of these live performances, his music been featured on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 Music and RTE Radio 1.

2022 has already seen George perform at the prestigious Glastonbury Festival, A UK tour accompanying Katherine Priddy, a slot at the acclaimed Port Fairy Folk Festival in Australia and also a trip to Kansas City for the Folk Alliance International conference. He has also been chosen as one of the four artists to be a part of this years English Folk Expo’s Artist Mentorship Programme, which will help to support and develop George’s career in the music industry throughout 2022/2023. Other highlights include performances at Latitude Festival & Moseley Folk Festival, a musical appearance on UKTV’s Taskmaster and a featured track on Japanese TV show ‘Terrace House’.

  • Winner of Best Festival for Emerging Talent at UK Festival Awards


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